Kirkliston is a small town and parish to the west of Edinburgh,
Scotland, historically within the county of West Lothian. It lies on
high ground immediately north of a northward loop of the Almond, on
the old road between
Linlithgow (the B9080, now cut off
Edinburgh Airport), having a crossroads with the road from
Newbridge to Queensferry and beyond to
Fife (the B800). The B800 is
variously named Path Brae, High Street, Station Road, and Queensferry
Road as it passes through the town. The B9080 is named Main Street and
Stirling Road as it passes through.
2 Parish church
3 Free church
4 Conservation area
8 External links
Kirkliston Community Council
The ancient name of the town was Liston, derived from the British llys
meaning court or manor, and the
Old English tun meaning town or
farmstead. Britons would have been the earliest inhabitants of the
area, with Angles later arriving from Northumberland. In the 13th
century the name was recorded as Temple Liston, referring to the
Knights Templar, who possessed the Barony of Liston at the heart of
the parish. The prefix Kirk (church) first appears in the 14th
century, after the
Knights Templar had been disbanded and their lands
given to the Knights Hospitaller. The Hospitallers are commemorated by
Maltese Cross in the arms of the community council, which were
granted in 1991.
Kirkliston was the location of the first recorded parliament in
Scottish history; the Estates of
Scotland met there in 1235, during
the reign of Alexander the Second. In June 1298 Edward Longshanks
made camp at the town on his way to fight
Sir William Wallace
Sir William Wallace at the
Battle of Falkirk. Tradition states that he planted his standard at
Greig's Hill, now within the Gateside housing estate. A violent
quarrel broke out in the camp between Edward's English and Welsh
forces, and eighteen ecclesiastics were killed. Clerics' Hill is named
in commemoration of them. When the Welshmen announced their intention
to defect to the Scots, Edward replied "let my enemies go and join my
enemies; I trust that in one day I shall chastise them all."
The barony of Kirkliston, including the village, church, mill, glebe,
and demesne, was acquired by the
Archbishop of St Andrews
Archbishop of St Andrews in the 15th
Kirkliston became the site of the court from which the
archbishop's lands south of the Forth were administrated, a fact
commemorated by the mitre and crozier in the council arms. The Setons
of Niddry, whose symbol, a red crescent on gold, is also represented,
were hereditary bailies of the barony. The court hall, situated at the
head of The Square, became the village school before being demolished
in the 1930s.
The oldest house in the town is Castle House, which has a marriage
stone dated 1683.
Robert Burns stayed there in the summer of 1787 and
inscribed this verse on a window pane, now in a
The ants about their clod employ their care,
And think the business of the world is theirs;
Lo: Waxen combs seem palaces to bees.
And mites conceive the world to be a cheese.
The eastern section of the Main Street was added as a toll road to
Linlithgow around 1800 and buildings developed along it from that
The memorial on the northeast corner of the crossroads was built in
1920 to the memory of the men who died in the war.
Until May 1975
Kirkliston was within the old county of West Lothian.
Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973
Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 it then became part of
Lothian Region and the City of
Edinburgh District. Further local
government reorganisation in 1996 saw the town become part of the City
Edinburgh Council area.
Edinburgh Council has a small office in the
local library, as well as running the library, primary school, and
From 1959 to 2001,
Kirkliston was the site of the
factory. There had also been a whisky distillery in the south of
the town since 1795, which in later years this became a malt factory.
Both factories have been demolished.
The 12th century south door
John Dalrymple, 2nd Earl of Stair
John Dalrymple, 2nd Earl of Stair on the wall of the Stair
The oldest surviving building in
Kirkliston is the kirk for which the
town is named. Its elevated position raises it to a position of great
prominence in the local topography. The mound it sits upon is partly
natural and partly a burial mound upon which the church has been
The church's "Norman Transitional" architecture indicates that it was
built around 1200. It was dedicated on 11 September 1244 by David
de Bernham, Bishop of St Andrews, but the patron saint is not
recorded. It may be one of the saints commemorated in the names of two
ancient local fairs, St Symon & St Jude's and St Margaret's. These
were discontinued in the 19th century, but there is now an annual
"gala day", a festival in which a local girl is crowned as the "gala
The south doorway is the most significant part of the building, being
an excellent example of a Romanesque style arched entrance, typical of
the late 12th century, with multiple concentric geometric and sculpted
forms in each curve. It was bricked up in the 1822 remodelling carried
out by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, and the old north doorway, more
restrained in design, was moved to the eastern wall to become the main
The projecting wing on the church's southeast, the Stair Aisle, in
which the lairds of
Newliston and their families are interred, was
added in the early 17th century. A lintel above its door bears the
Latin for "it is proper to trust in virtue, not in lineage" with the
date 1629 and the initials of John Dundas of
Newliston and his wife
The church contains a copy of the 1648 Solemn League and Covenant,
signed by the minister and 310 parishioners. It is displayed on the
east wall of the nave.
Kirkliston Parish Church is a congregation of the Church of Scotland
(within the Presbytery of Edinburgh).
Kirkliston parish also includes
the neighbouring community of Newbridge. The Reverend Margaret Lane
became its minister in 2008.
The oldest stone in the graveyard is dated 1545. A curious
gravestone features two carved heads wearing spectacles; its date of
1727 possible makes it the world's oldest depiction of glasses with
The original graveyard lies largely to the south of the church, but
was extended as a more formal cemetery on sloping ground to the west.
Unusually for towns, the much later
Kirkliston Cemetery (begun in
1928) has squeezed into a site northeast of the church on the site of
the former manse and garden, rather than lying on the outskirts.
Kirkliston Free Church was opened on 30 September 1843, with its
founding stone laid by Thomas Chalmers. Its tall stone spire (added by
Hippolyte Blanc in 1880) means it also has a commanding role in the
local landscape. It closed as a church in 1945, and is now used by the
parish church as a church hall.
At the crossroads
Kirkliston was designated a conservation area on 13 October 1977. The
conservation area all lies south of the main crossroads and Main
Street. Although Main Street is not included in the conservation area,
the Conservation Area Character Appraisal recognises that boundary
changes to include parts of Main Street would help to preserve the
It focuses on the Parish Church, The Square and the High Street but
also stretches south down to encompass the remote manse and the little
group of buildings at Breastmill (1672).
Its boundary splits the now largely demolished distillery site and it
is recognised that inclusion of the entire site would help to control
The boundary encompasses the River Almond as it passes the town
leading to the net area of the conservation area being primarily open
space rather than buildings.
Kirkliston is often known as "Cheesetown", a name first
recorded in print in 1902. A suggested origin is the Burns verse given
above, but the most widely used explanation is that when the Forth
Bridge was being built, the workers who lodged in
Kirkliston often had
cheese sandwiches for lunch. The town is also often called "Kirky".
Kirkliston had its own railway station, built by the North
British Railway. The station was located on a branch line from
"Queensferry Junction" (near
Ratho on the Edinburgh-Glasgow main line)
to Dalmeny, which was opened in 1866. The line was extended from
Dalmeny to Queensferry and
Port Edgar a few years later.
Kirkliston Station was closed to passengers by the London and North
Eastern Railway in 1930. Freight trains through
Kirkliston ended in
1966 following the Beeching cuts, and the railway track was
subsequently removed. There are still references to the station in the
name of two streets. The old railway line has been converted into a
Kirkliston is served by First's 38 bus which runs to Stirling.
In June 2014,
Lothian Buses introduced the 63 bus which runs from
Heriot Watt via the Gyle, Newbridge, Kirkliston, and onwards to
Whyte, Donald (1991). Kirkliston: a Parish History. The Congregational
Kirkliston Parish Church. ISBN 0950432911.
^ "The Lord-Lieutenants (Scotland) Order 1996". Legislation.gov.uk.
2011-07-04. Retrieved 2016-05-04.
Scottish Parliament - Past and Present" (PDF). The Scottish
^ "Kirkliston, Stirling Road,
Drambuie Production And Bottling Plant".
^ Buildings of Scotland; Lothian by Colin McWilliam
^ unpublished leaflet by Stephen C. Dickson , Surveyor of Graveyards
and Cemeteries for CEC, 1984e
^ Optical Curiosities in
Kirkliston Conservation Area Character Appraisal" (PDF). Retrieved
Kirkliston Parish Church
Areas of Edinburgh